If you don’t fancy the bright lights and bustle of Brighton, but you do fancy somewhere cosmopolitan and by the sea, you might want to head to Hove instead. Rich in interesting architecture, and with a very different vibe, here is a little history and a lot of things to do in Hove.
The history of Hove
Much is written about the growth of Brighton from the small village of Brighthelmeston to the city it has become but perhaps not so much about Hove, actually.
Like Brighton, Hove was originally a small fishing village and one of the first known buildings is St Andrew’s Church built in the 12th century. At the time, it would have been in a rural location. The church was altered in the 13th century but by the 16th century was in a sorry state of repair probably a reflection of the village itself.
Even as late as the 18th and 19th centuries, little was going on in Hove apart from smuggling and the village famously only had 101 residents in the 1801 census. Hove smugglers were notorious and they used St Andrew’s church to hide their bounty and The Ship Inn as a meeting place. There was a notable fight on Hove Beach between revenue men and smugglers in 1818. The smugglers won.
As Brighton boomed and grew in the mid to late 18th century, perhaps understandably so did its neighbour Hove. Imagine the development of the grand Regency Brunswick estate in the early 19th century which included a theatre and riding schools. Later, broad avenues became home to fine Victorian villas. St Andrew’s church was restored and rebuilt and Hove began to transform into the elegant settlement it is today.
Things to do in Hove
Any visit to Hove should start with a walk along the seafront. If travelling from east to west, you leave Brighton just after the bandstand and when you reach the Peace Statue and where the railings change colour from turquoise to green. I know that now, thanks to Instagram!
The Peace Statue is a statue of an angel holding an orb and an olive branch. It is a memorial to Edward VII, ‘The Peacemaker’, who convalesced in Brighton. You are at the start of Hove Lawns here and as you walk, admire the seafront architecture that lines Kingsway and the grand old houses (many of which are Grade II listed) of Brunswick Square, Adelaide Crescent and Palmeira Square.
Look out for the Hove Plinth, an art installation and currently home to the Constellation by artist Jonathan Wright. This is described as “Part mechanical model of the solar system, part film camera and part ship’s compass, the sculpture is a celebration of Hove.” Each of the eight items displayed on it represents some part of Hove’s past or present.
This is also the start of the multi-coloured beach huts which sit neatly in front of yet more gorgeous buildings. The wide promenade has a softly vibrant atmosphere. Keep going and eventually, you’ll pass Rockwater and arrive at the Hove Lagoon. You’ll have walked just over 3 km and it’s a great way to ease into Hove life. Or of course, you could just hang out on Hove Beach.
Culture and Arts
If it’s museums you’re after, try Hove Museum of Creativity (on New Church Road) where you’ll find the Jaipur Gate (originally commissioned in 1886 for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in South Kensington), a Wizard’s Attic (a treasure trove of toys dating back to the 18th century), a dolls exhibition, contemporary craft, fine art and lots of Hove history.
The Booth Museum of Natural History is actually in Brighton but only because it’s on the other side of Dyke Road. But it’s a haven for anyone who loves birds, bones, butterflies and bugs.
Just to confuse you, Brighton Open Air Theatre (B.O.A.T) is actually in Hove (in Hove Green on the opposite side of Dyke Road to the Booth Museum). B.O.A.T hosts a wide range of performances including theatre, music, comedy, dance, opera, circus and family shows from April to September.
There are also a number of art galleries in Hove including the Cameron Contemporary on Second Avenue, Katherine Richards Art Gallery on Portland Road, and Whistleblower on St. John’s Road. Alternatively, you might want to visit St Helen’s Church at Hangleton – the oldest building in Brighton and Hove or the Grade II listed West Blatchington Windmill which dates to about 1820. The windmill hosts all sorts of events including storytelling, plant sales and teddy bear picnics.
Want to get active?
Good. Head to Hove Lagoon, which is home to wakeboarding, paddleboarding, windsurfing, SUP yoga, kayaking and sailing, and caters for kids and adults of all levels. If water sports are not your thing, what about cricket? Sussex County Cricket Club is based in Hove and as you’d expect, they have a great fixture list. And not far from Hove Park, you’ll also find Coral Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium. Or perhaps you fancy trying your wits at the Bewilder Box Escape Room?
For serenity and calm and a thoroughly regenerative experience, coincide your visit with a full moon and join the folk from Ruby Moon for a full moon swim, paddle and yoga on the beach! You won’t regret it and they meet at the Lawns Café.
Hove is a great place for foodies with a smorgasbord of eclectic eateries. Big names include etch., Oeuf, Wild Flor, The Ginger Pig, Third Avenue, Rockwater and the Little Fish Market to name but a few.
As you might expect, there are lots of other quirky eateries, bars and cafés including Moonstone, the only Sri Lankan restaurant on the south coast and the Paris Wine Bar.
In short, whatever your tastes and whether you want to dine seafront or Greek café style, you’ll find something to get your tastebuds watering. Hove is just that kind of place. Elegant, slightly cool and always interesting.
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